A Thanksgiving dinner turns into a nightmare for a couple and their neighbours when two young girls, one from each family, go for a walk and don’t come back.
The happy occasion gradually twists into unbearable tensions as the Dovers (Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello) and the Birches (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) search fruitlessly for the girls, fearing the worst.
Two of the older children spot a camper van parked down the street, and when Jake Gyllenhaal’s detective Loki is called in, he quickly finds the van’s owner, a misfit and loner played by Paul Dano.
The interrogation begins but Gyllenhaal has doubts about the suspect’s connection to the crime, instead looking at a wider plot involving multiple perpetrators.
This is the last thing the parents want to hear. Losing hope as the police inquiry drags on, a desperate Jackman takes matters into his own hands, kidnapping Dano and torturing him in the hope of finding out the whereabouts of his daughter.
Rather than a conventional family in peril thriller, this is a wrenching psychological study in which the stakes are the lives of two children.
The dilemma of how far to go to find them is followed to its difficult conclusion, without giving audiences an easy get out.
Is torture ever justified and can it even get the result you want? This is the question hanging over the parents, as they pursue their vigilante efforts.
Jackman sheds his superhero skin and becomes a mortal man who goes to extremes to get his child back, but the viewer has to share the terrible burden of not knowing whether he he will ultimately be reunited with his daughter.
A genuinely engulfing drama.
Review by Joe Gill